A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations

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9781526611536: A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations
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A playful and profound guidebook full of surprising, brief, incisive glimpses into Japanese culture

Pico Iyer has been living around Kyoto for more than thirty-two years, but he admits at the outset of this book that he sometimes feels he knows less now than when he arrived. In the constantly surprising pages that follow, he shows how an evening with Meryl Streep, a walk through a ghostly deer park, even a call to the local Apple service centre can open up his adopted home in fresh and invigorating ways.

Why does anime make sense in an animist culture? How might Oscar Wilde reveal a culture too often associated with conformity? How can Japanese friends in a typical neighbourhood turn every stereotype on its head? His provocations may infuriate you - may even infuriate himself - Iyer confesses in his opening salvo, but maybe it's only by setting its love hotels next to its baseball stadia, its wild fashions against its eighth-century values, that Japan can be made new again for both the first-time visitor and the jaded foreign resident.

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Review:

[A] lovely pocket compendium of oddities and insights of Japanese life ... Provocative and elegant, Iyer's guide succeeds precisely because it doesn't attempt to be authoritative (Publisher's Weekly)

With an elegant, understated manner, Iyer offers poignant reflections on his adopted country and its maddening contradictions and shifting parts ... Iyer's subtle observations reveal a great deal about what is beyond the surface of how some Westerners view the Japanese (Kirkus)

Pico Iyer is a writer like no other, sui generis (Jan Morris, praise for Pico Iyer)

To me [Pico Iyer] was the complete traveller - highly educated, humorous, detached, portable, positive, alert, subtle, a great noticer and listener, calm, humane and fluent in his prose. And he had been everywhere (Paul Theroux in 'Ghost Train to the Eastern Star', praise for Pico Iyer)

Iyer's thoughtful nature leads him to peel back layer upon layer, nodding toward the infinite (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description:

A playful and profound guidebook full of surprising, brief, incisive glimpses into Japanese culture

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